Despite the fact that humanitarian boats are forbidden in the Mediterranean by Malta and Italy, who prevent their arrival in their ports, some like the “Alan Kurdi” continue saving lives and among their crew there is a young Spaniard who did not hesitate to embark.
“The decision to embark was easy to take because I had it in mind since I saw the devastating photo of the boy Alan Kurdi lying on the shore of a beach in Turkey,” explains to Efe Pablo Bengoechea, the Spaniard who aboard the ship the German NGO Sea-Eye rescued 64 migrants in early April.
Bengoechea Cabieces, 26, born in Santoña, Cantabria, has been at sea for more than two months and suffered the last odyssey on the ship “Alan Kurdi”, when at the beginning of April he stayed for eleven days waiting for a port to disembark the 64 migrants he had rescued.
He talks to Efe from the boat in the two hours of Internet they have to be able to communicate while they are heading towards Tunisia for a stop, after the Government of Malta took care of the rescued people, but they did not let them enter the port.
They are exhausted. They spent days of storms with 64 people on board and even three of them, two migrant women and a man of the crew, had to be evacuated due to the conditions in which they were.
“If you had the opportunity, you would also do it”.
This young Cantabrian, who has finished his nautical studies as a height skipper, joined the Spanish NGO Proemaid and the crew of the “Alan Kurdi” and throws darts at the consciences: “If you had the opportunity, you would also do it”.
He tells us that he has been on board since mid-February, with a one-week break between missions, and his main function is that of deck sailor doing all kinds of maintenance work on the ship, as well as the master of one of the two rescue boats (RIHB).
But he explains that in this kind of boat you do not just work as a professional of the sea. “So when we had 64 people on board, I had no problem offering myself as a cook for them,” he says.
“Those days meant a lot of work for us, feeding and caring for 64 people is not an easy task. The guards were 3 or 4 hours depending on the task to be performed. We were tired and we slept very little, but we had the satisfaction of seeing them in decent conditions, “he says.
Among the 64 people rescued earlier this month were two children, a one-year-old baby and Manuel, aged 6, whom Pablo Bengoechea filled with attention.
From the first day he arrived, says the lifeguard, “we already started talking and playing. He knows the situation, but he does not understand it at all, so my goal was simple, to make this little boy feel entertained, to believe that it is a mere trip to a better place.”
Message for politicians
To the politicians who consider the NGOs “taxis of the sea” or that they “help the traffickers”, the Spanish lifeguard asks “not to be seen as enemies” and “to think that we are the same people who would go in the same way to help them or their loved ones in case of need “.
“We are dedicated to the rescue and just as a fireman or a lifeguard does not look or ask what is the color of the skin, the country of birth, the language they speak or their religion when they provide help, we rescue people who need it and the geopolitical issues and responsibilities will have to be solved by the politicians” he says.
Pablo Bengoechea has not hesitated a moment to embark despite the fact that three Spaniards, two from Open Arms and another from the German NGO Jugend Retter, are being investigated in Italy for favoring immigrant trafficking.
“I see too much interest in criminalizing the NGOs that rescue people in the Mediterranean and I do not see so much interest in investigating where the weapons of the warlords that control in Africa the strategic minerals such as coltan, come from. In which countries and which banks have their fortunes… “, he accuses.
And he asks: “Is the money that Europe gives to border countries for the control of emigration really effective? Does it serve to combat trafficking, the exploitation of people and guarantee human rights? Does Europe really take interest in these matters?”
The “Alan Kurdi” is now heading to Spain to repair some damages and its intention is to continue if they collect sufficient funds with another mission, while on his arrival in Spain, Pablo will continue training to persue his dream of being part of Salvamento Marítimo (SASEMAR).
(April 27, 2019, EFE/PracticaEspañol)
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